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Praise For Parks, Pre-K, Progressive Business In Mesa State Of The City
There’s good reason why the City of Mesa has jumped from 38th to 36th largest city in the country.
Mesa Mayor John Giles highlighted four reasons at Tuesday’s State of the City address in downtown Mesa with more than 700 people attending.
Leading off with the city’s parks, Giles proclaimed, “Mesa is a great place to have fun!”
Although the voter-approved park bond money from 2012 recently ended, he said the city used those funds to improve, build and maintain parks that appeal to all ages and abilities.
Mesa’s next chapter he said will include the Imagine Mesa Initiative, where more than 67,000 residents contributed ideas for improving the city.
“As a result of that, we were able to generate from the people of Mesa 465 different ideas,” Giles said.
That includes “everything from how to improve our bulk pick up to a new youth and amateur sports complex,” which are only two of many ideas currently being vetted for possible funding.
More families will enjoy those parks as several hundred jobs arrive with the opening of a new cargo complex at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway airport that capitalizes on the growing demand for retail shopping online.
"Phoenix-Mesa Gateway is going to become an international hub for e-commerce,” Giles said. He said Mesa has partnered with SkyBridge Arizona to create “the only airport allowed to clear cargo to more than 200 airports in Central America.”
Although Arizona legislators have failed to fund elementary school education, Giles said his community has moved ahead with its Mesa K-Ready program providing preschoolers with critical early education skills.
The program is rolling out now with the first 50 families receiving touch tablets loaded with pre-k software and access to Mesa’s libraries, museums, and arts programs tailored for early learning necessary before a child begins kindergarten.
“The secrete sauce to this program is the addition of mentors,” Giles said. “Each one of these families is going to be assigned a school teacher to find out what challenges they’re experiencing and are these kids on track.”
The hope, he said, is to expand the Mesa K-Ready program to 1,000 families by 2020.
As with any city facing explosive growth, Mesa has its challenges with homelessness and a shortage of public safety officers.
He’s partnered city resources with non-profits to help with the vulnerable community and has hopes voters will approve funding for hiring more first responders on the next ballot.